Growing up, Mulokole was the most successful shopkeeper in my village. His warm tone when dealing with customers regardless of age and background, was what made him such a darling in the community; but his competition never got to understand why no matter what they did to copy his strategy, they never got half the appeal that this adorable widower had.
Mulokole’s secret though, that the other shopkeepers were oblivious to — his ace card — was the pet he owned: a domesticated red-tailed monkey. This little guy made kids spend at least an hour everyday at the old man’s house garage, artfully improvised into a shop for groceries and other household items. They would get a chance to play with his monkey, Seki, who was most of the time caged in a tiny kennel, but had grown to love people, share foodstuffs and indulge in games with them. This domesticated primate, became an attraction to the older people too. None of the members in the community ever questioned the means in which Mulokole obtained the primate from his habitat, and worse still, none of them ever cared about the health risks this pseudo-zoo posed to the community.
This memory comes to me every time monkeys are mentioned as the possible agents of the spread of the novel Coronavirus to people. The mystery behind the Wuhan market in China from which the virus is said to have originated, and its reputation for selling wild animals both alive and their meat, is rather disturbing to people like me who care about the preservation of wildlife and animal welfare in general.
The president of Uganda, H.E Yoweri Museveni, in one of his many National Addresses about the COVID19 pandemic in the country, expressed concerns at why one would eat and/or domesticate bats and monkeys. Just a couple of days after the statement, 7 Chinese nationals were arrested in the country; for the illegal possession of dried elephant penises worth $4.5 million. They were also keeping tortoises as pets without taking permission from Uganda Wildlife Authority.
With the continued romanticizing of keeping wild animals in captivity, through things like the Netflix documentary “Tiger King”, the only solution to all this, is to ban wildlife trade, since nothing else seems to work. If you are interested in seeing a change being made, register via the link below, to attend a webinar about the topic, that will take place tomorrow Wednesday 20th May 2020: